JMwaura responded saying the cycle of emotions that the Külber Ross model illustrates are evident.


The corner suite at KPMG East Africa is getting a little uncomfortable for Josphat Mwaura. The man who heads the regional office of the leading audit and consulting firm is not sitting pretty at all, with employees building as a wave that could sweep him out of power gains momentum.

Internal email communications leaked to BT show a major fallout between top management on one side the partners and employees on the other. The tension has exploded into an all-out cyber war between the disgruntled elements and the CEO, Mr Mwaura, who is being accused of a number of ills, including high-handedness and hiring of needless expatriates at exorbitantly high salaries.

The accusations are being levelled by a section of KPMG’s 31 partners and 800 employees, who feel their boss is not adding value to the firm’s development. “Josphat Mwaura is a well-disguised dictator who has imposed foreigners on us to insult us while living off our sweat by taking obscene salaries,” they say in an email sent to the internal staff anonymously. The writers of the email say Mr Mwaura had brought in foreigners at senior manager, director and partner levels at the expense of Kenyans.

According to sources, KPMG has hired six expats – four whites and two Indians – headed by one Andrew Jackson, who also faces a raft of accusations bordering on arrogance and racism.

The dissenting partners and employees, who say Mwaura fought and pushed out former KPMG boss Robert Boro, feel it’s his turn to have a dose of his own medicine. They are particularly incensed by the issue of expatriates, saying whatever work they have been hired to do has been done well by locals for years.

“Being clueless about this market, which we have served diligently for decades, these foreigners’ only pre-occupation is conducting needless surveys and low-sounding talk-shows that have earned the firm no revenue at all,” the letter says of the six risk consultants. “Yet Josphat is paying them obscene salaries at our expense, some even more than five times our salary, and while at it, buying himself and the COO the latest model cars and imposing austerity measures on everyone!”

Yet, they claim, everyone else’s salary increase and bonuses remain meagre. Delving into the CEO’s personal life, the letter is peppered with details on how Mr Mwaura and the expatriates live large even when the company is doing not so well, while some employees are paid peanuts. “Most of the weekends the so-called expatriates compete on who will discover the most scenic gateway, of course after already getting bored with Maasai Mara and the Coast.”

Mr Mwaura, whom the letter was addressed to, responded in an email, seeking to water down the issues it was raising, and even trying to comment on it with a light touch. “I feel sad,” he responded in an email to all staff, “that an individual could be so aggrieved to lead them to that action.  I thought the recent GPS (Global People Survey) provided an avenue for all honest feedback. If there’s anything we can do to provide an avenue for expression for such a person, I would very much like to grant that opportunity.”

But this was immediately dismissed by the complainants, who wrote back through the anonymous mail saying the GPS does not provide a conducive environment needed for honest feedback as it is interrupted to “suit” some and “demonize” others. The 2016 GPS results have not been released because, they say, may have contained unflattering views about Mwaura’s “leadership and the supposed transformation.”

Mocking the aggrieved

Mr Mwaura, in his response, attributed the outburst to emotional instability caused by strategic changes being implemented at KPMG and even mocks the situation by likening it to the mental situation of a terminally ill patient.  “I am aware of the challenges that have been presented by the change we are implementing. The cycle of emotions that the Külber Ross model illustrates are evident,” he wrote.

The Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief, postulates a series of emotions experienced by terminally ill patients prior to death. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Besides being CEO, Josphat Mwaura is a member of the firm’s Senior Africa Leadership Team and also sits in the Global Council of KPMG. According to his KPMG profile, Mr Mwaura has considerable experience in leadership, strategy, business performance improvement, and public sector transformation.

But employees note that he has failed to deliver growth for the company. In fact, they have punched holes in his strategic plan Vision 2019, which they say is decoy to extend his term beyond December 2016. They claim the strategy has exaggerated targets designed not to be met to increase the longevity of his stay.

“Whatever we do, we’ll never achieve our targets,” says the email, “And he gets to use it as an excuse to extend his term to 2019.”

On the extension of Mwaura’s tenure, the protesters blame KPMG’s partners for being used to extend the CEO’s stay despite his poor record. They point out that Mwaura had run down Management Consulting as well as People and Change departments, “and ruined many careers and livelihoods in the process.”

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Mr Mwaura is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA – K) and member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPA – K). He also holds a Certificate in Macroeconomic Policy and Management from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Employees note, however, that he has no degree and perhaps why he feels in secure of emerging talent within the organization.

The protesters are not mincing words.

Mwaura said he would not respond to the grievances and promised to have the Partnership, the supreme organ of the firm, give an appropriate response. “I am sure you know me well enough by now to know that I do not easily take offense,” he said. “My mum taught me many years ago that you do not become a dog by being called one; you become a dog if you behave like one. It is well with my soul.”

The employees are hoping to galvanise support and hopefully convence the Partnership to push the CEO out or force him to play ball.  Recently, Kenya Airways pilots pushed for the overhaul of its management and threatened to strike if the board did not take action and sack management. They had their prayers answered after the board chairman and CEO both quit to give way for a new crop of leaders.

If Mr Mwaura doesn’t leave, the employees have threatened to reveal more dirty about him and other unspecified actions. “So, my wife is not called Grace,” a defiant Mwaura amusingly concluded his email response, “and No I have not been on holiday in China.”

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  1. People play politics with facts. Mwaura is a seasoned and tested manager. It’ll be a big mistake to undermine his agenda..that said I think it’d be naive for him not to address the expatriate issue with honesty for which I’ve had experience with in past assignments.

  2. Most Kenyan firms have serious problems with corporate governance and ethics…most senior management operate companies without even basic regard to simple corporate ethics…very shameful indeed!

  3. In most cases expatriates read theory books and are quick at throwing it down the throats of employees. The whites must be such nasty, ever thinking the black man never thinks beyond his mouth. After a long service with experience, there comes a time when you cannot add any value, your best years of service are past and you need to quit or experience more challenges.

  4. I like the way Mwaura is treating some of this little fools…they get some fake degrees and the brandish them all over the place. I like ati my wife is not called Grathi..

  5. Who won the tender to clean the IEBC voters register? Case was contested and now this? A poorly researched article by a correspondent?Am I the only one seeing the connection?Business Today should be re-branded to Gossip today.
    So you don’t like your CEO? Grow a pair, quit and start your own audit firm and let us see how that works for you.
    So Mwaura doesn’t have a degree? But has somehow managed to be the CEO of one of the top three audit firms in the country. Can you imagine what the guy would accomplish if he HAD a degree?
    If you have to bash the man at least learn his wife’s name, it isn’t Grace.


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